Friday, February 21, 2014

Barbados February 20, 2014

Arrival is set for 10 am and we sleep until 9 and the first thing Bernie says “did you feel that storm last night”.  Really what storm.  Now we have been encountering some crazy wind for the past few days at sea as well as in ports and last evening the ship was moving a bit, in fact I often had to brace myself in the shower.  But I slept thru the entire storm, sadly Bernie did not, but it will be  a restful day so I am sure we will get by okay.

We are not in any real rush so we get dressed and head up to Horizon Court and it is very busy at 9:30 am, but really I should not be surprised with docking at 10 am most people have slept in and grabbing a bite to eat before heading ashore. 

As I was checking out the fruit at the buffet a sous chef came beside me and grabbed this large grapefruit in one of the trays (they had a tray of apples, kiwis, and oranges and the grapefruit was in one of them) and I commented to him “wow that is a big grapefruit” he smiled and said “cause it is fake and made of wax and is from the display above but the passengers keep grabbing them thinking they are real”.  Oh my that is funny, so he puts it back up in the display and moves the display further back. 

I grab some fruit (the real kind), a bagel with cream cheese (with port in it) and some muselix (love the smaller dishes of muselix much better than the serve yourself bowls).  We find a seat near the back of Café Caribe and enjoy a lovely meal.
We head ashore around 10:30 and the wind is howling, boy these ports have been extra windy but it is welcomed cause otherwise it would be very hot. 

walk out to roundabout, just outside the port gate and grab a taxi here
We exit the cruise terminal and past the port taxis to just outside the gate to the waiting taxis at the round about.  We hop in a taxi and head straight to Lobster Alive – cost is $5 per person and the taxi driver wastes no time and surprisingly we made it there alive!

We came her last year too and we much prefer Lobster Alive cause it is quieter than the Boatyard which charges $15 per person just to enter, but with that you get a chair and umbrella and access to their Tarzan swing, and washrooms, restaurants and shops.  But for us at Lobster Alive we just pick a chair and umbrella and each is $5 so for us the total cost is $15; although no one ever came and collected in the entire time we were there. 

We walked the beach, we swam, we sunbathed, we read, we laughed, we met people around us and we had a few vendors approach us but they were all very respectful.  Ice Man (that is his name apparently) approached us about a snorkel trip (which we declined because we have snorkeled many times with the turtles) and offered us a tour for $30 each (which is high and I probably wouldn’t pay more than $20 each).  They take you out on a boat and you can either snorkel with the turtles or stay on the boat and watch from the glass bottom.  But they only take you a short distance away, in fact you could probably just walk down the beach and enter from the water and see the turtles too.  But we did not do this and I can say that snorkeling with the turtles here in other areas is amazing and a must do event.

We thought about eating here but after a peak at the menu we really didn’t feel like paying the prices they were quoting to sit on a lounge chair and eat from a paper plate with the wind and the sand being blown all over so Bernie and I decided to make our way back to the ship around 2 pm.
This time we both thought we would try walking back, we have heard many people say they often walk it and I was not drunk this time (like last year) and it was early and I wanted to see for myself how the walk would be.  We saw a bunch of stands near the bridge and Bernie bought two fish cakes that were .50 each and a coke and we munched on those, yummy!  We crossed the bridge and walked along the boardwalk then along the street towards the pier.

We came across a restaurant called Rollies and it is a nice little open air restaurant.  I ordered the grilled mahi mahi and Bernie had the Jerk Chicken.  The prices were half the price of the restaurants on the beach and the atmosphere is much more conclusive to a restaurant without wind/sand.  We also ordered a Corn and Oil drink, which we had heard about from some travel show and no there is no oil in this drink!  But it is made with Rum and bitters and it was strong but very good and for $3 a drink a great deal.   Bernie had two and well I opted to just have one.  Our meals were amazing, probably one of the best meals we have had ashore.  I am drooling just thinking about them.

A short walk to the pier entrance and we enter the port and the shops and today I decide I am going to get some of the exotic flowers they sell right there in the port.  A woman who runs the stand explains that the exotic flowers are $2 to $3 a stem but she can easily make up a bouquet for us in any denomination so this is what we do.  I ask for two bouquets of $20 each and she starts out with a bamboo vase that she fills with sand that holds the stems, then adds water and then adds the flowers and boy is it beautiful!  What a deal too and she said they should last for around 3 weeks on board.  There is no problem bringing flowers on board.  When going thru security you will have to hand it to the security to have it checked with the wand perhaps. 

I grab an iced café late from the IC and catch up with the staff there about our day.  It feels like coming home and seeing our family and sharing in what they and what we did for the day.  But I really need a shower.  A day at the beach has encrusted salt, sand, sweat and dirt on me, and boy you don’t even want to hear about how bad my hair looks.
Sail away drinks are in order again!  I could get use to this.
Tonight we are dining again in the dining room with our friends Barb and Craig.  We agree to try the Michelangelo again since last night was better.  We arrive just before 7:45 pm and there is no wait at all and we are directed to a table for four.  Bernie immediately is concerned, we are back in the section we sat at the second night (formal night) where we had very poor service.  I tell him we need to give it another try.  We are sat at table 277 and sadly our waiter comes over and he doesn’t even remember us from the other night.  Oh well I guess we are not that memorable and heck they do see a lot of people, but what is funny is other waiters and assistant waiters have come by and said hi to us.  Oh well, try and keep a positive attitude.

We get our bottle of wine from the other night.  Craig orders a bottle and they bring a Sauvignon Blanc instead of the Chardonnay even though they had the right menu number on the receipt, glad he caught that and they did go and correct it.  We wait and wait and finally we have our order taken.  We do notice that he has another table of four and another table with a single person at it and us.  So it isn’t that he is busy.

We get our appetizers, I had the mac and cheese with bacon (which is good) and we all finish and I am disappointed that the appetizer plates sit in front of us for 15 minutes before they are cleared.  Finally when he comes to clear them we do comment and he apologizes.  The time is now 8:20 and we are all feeling a little saddened and well disappointed in the service and wonder if we should just leave but we decide to stay.

We had thought about talking to a head waiter but sadly not a single head waiter has spoken to us on any of the nights we have dined in the dining room (except the first night to explain the wine card) and since none are around we just let it go.  Many waiters/assistant waiters are just standing around cause their sections are not full, and even our waiter’s section is not full (hate to think how it would have been if he would have been full).

We get our next course which for me is the Thai soup and I LOVE this dish, I could have a big bowl of it, it is that good.  For my entrée I have the Turkey Scallopini and again one of my favorites.  For dessert I have the sugar free grapefruit tart and again yummy yummy.  The food so far this voyage has been excellent!

We didn’t order coffees or more wine just because we didn’t have enough time.  Dinner took an hour and a half for the four of us in a dining room that is about a third full.

Now for those that have been following my blog for many years you know I try to always focus on the positive and I do love Princess, and even though not everything is always perfect I do agree that if something is not right you need to discuss it with the appropriate people to see about fixing it.  We came back to the cabin and Bernie and I discussed it and we need to find a way to rectify this issue in the dining room but we are not sure yet oh how to do this.  Normally we would discuss with the head waiter but none have really been around or are that approachable.  Even the head waiter that greets us when we enter the dining room is not that friendly and in fact I find a bit intimidating cause when we do ask for a table of two I feel like we are causing a problem.  I don’t feel like I am being welcomed when I enter and they certainly don’t seem to recognize us night to night.

Maybe I am asking for too much?  I don’t know, maybe I have just been spoiled in previous cruises?  We are going to see what we can do, maybe we should just try Da Vinci dining room.  But in the end I do hope that Princess rectifies this cause I am pretty sure we are not the only ones experiencing this.

Tonight is the Island Deck Party but neither of us is up for it, we are tired and dinner service has put a shadow over the night.  So we head back to the cabin and we crash just after 10 pm.

Our friends posed for the Platinum Studio on board and last night they told us about their experience and they LOVED it. James McKay was the photographer and he made the experience so relaxing.  We have always heard great things about the Platinum Studio and they agreed.  They said somehow the photographer captured the love between the two of them.  It wasn’t like the standard formal night photos but more about the caring, the looks, the kindness and friendship they both feel for each other. 

But I want to end on a positive note.  Everything else is amazing.  I have to say the cruise director and entertainment on board have been top notch.  Lisa Ball does an amazing job, she is probably one of the best CDs we have seen she is just enough out there to be visible but also is gives her staff enough space to do their job. 

Carlos and I

The Bar Staff are among the friendliest and helpful we have ever sailed with.  The food has been top notch, flavourful, hot when it should be hot, plentiful, great selection.  Room Steward is good – a little shy which makes chatting with him so cute.  Officers are out and about and very attentive.  The photography staff are so friendly too and so patient and kind.  We are so happy to see Carlos again, we originally sailed with him on his first contract on the Emerald last year.  Tonight he informs us that his contract is almost done.  He gets off in Valparaiso and is planning on going back to school.  We are happy for him, but will miss him.

Tomorrow is Trinidad and an early start, no formal plans here.  We have been there twice and really like the island.

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